Endangered species regulation and pretext

May 31, 2013 | By DAMIEN SCHIFF

Pacific Legal Foundation successfully sued the Fish and Wildlife Service last year to force the agency to act on a petition to delist the Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle, which has been protected as a threatened species since 1980 but which, since at least 2006, has been deemed to have recovered.¬† In October of last year, the Service, as a result of PLF’s lawsuit, formally proposed to delist the beetle and invited comment from the public on the proposal.¬† One of the comments submitted opposing the delisting is surprisingly and refreshingly frank about the role the environmental community has assigned to the Endangered Species Act:

The majority of people could care less if a beetle goes extinct; however, we do care about what the beetle represents.¬† The beetle represents the natural world that humans are taking over, paving, destroying, and molding into what we perceive to be the ideal world, a cookie-cutter reality with multiple big box stores in every city.¬† One of California’s greatest assets is its open space, its natural resources, and its opportunity to experience nature in its true form.¬† People move to California for its beaches and its forests.¬† People value what California has to offer and developers are destroying what makes California a beautiful place to live.¬† The proposed rule to delist the [beetle] is a travesty.¬† Instead of conducting sound science to recover our natural resources, the federal government is caving into political pressures.

In other words, the beetle’s ESA protections are a tool to achieve a land-use aesthetic that cannot be achieved through “political” means.